The following is a guest post by Mick Eadie, Research Information Management Officer at University of Glasgow, on his impressions of Repository Fringe 2017.
From the Arts
The first day afternoon 10×10 (lightning talk) sessions had many of the presentations on Research Data topics. We heard talks about repositories in the arts; evolving research data policy at national and pan-national level; and archival storage and integrations between research data repositories and other systems like Archivematica, EPrints and Pure.
Repositories and their use in managing research data in the arts was kicked off with Nicola Siminson from the Glasgow School of Art with her talk on What RADAR did next: developing a peer review process for research plans. Nicola explained how EPrints has been developed to maximise the value of research data content at GSA by making it more visually appealing and better able to deal with a multitude of non-text based objects and artefacts. She then outlined GSA’s recently developed Annual Research Planning (ARP) tool which is an EPrints add-on that allows the researcher to provide information on their current and planned research activities and potential impact.
GSA have built on this functionality to enable the peer-reviewing of ARPs, which means they can be shared and commented on by others. This has led to significant uptake in the use of the repository by researchers as they are keen to keep their research profile up-to-date, which has in turn raised the repository profile and increased data deposits. There are also likely to be cost-benefits to the institution by using an existing system to help to manage research information as well as outputs, as it keeps content accessible from one place and means the School doesn’t need to procure separate systems.
We heard from Martin Donnelly from the DCC on National Open Data and Open Science Policies in Europe. Martin talked about the work done by the DCC and SPARC Europe in assessing policies from across Europe to assess the methodologies used by countries and funders to promote the concept of Open Data across the continent. They found some interesting variants across countries: some funder driven, others more national directives, plans and roadmaps. It was interesting to see how a consensus was emerging around best practice and how the EU through its Horizon 2020 Open Research Data Pilot seemed to be emerging as a driver for increased take up and action.
Storage, Preservation and Integration
No research data day would be complete without discussing archival storage and preservation. Pauline Ward from Edinburgh University gave us an update on Edinburgh DataVault: Local implementation of Jisc DataVault: the value of testing. She highlighted the initial work done at national level by Jisc and the research data Spring project, and went on to discuss the University of Edinburgh’s local version of Data Vault which integrates with their CRIS system (Pure) – allowing a once only upload of the data which links to metadata in the CRIS and creates an archival version of the data. Pauline also hinted at future integration with DropBox which will be interesting to see develop.
Alan Morrison from the University of Strathclyde continued on the systems integration and preservation theme by giving as assessment of Data Management & Preservation using PURE and Archivematica. He gave us the background to Strathclyde’s systems and workflows between Pure and Archivematica, highlighting some interesting challenges in dealing with file-formats in the STEM subjects which are often proprietary and non-standard.
The Data Library is pleased to announce it has secured access to a world-renowned data repository on behalf of the Research Data Service. The Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR), based at the University of Michigan, is a network of approximately 700 universities and colleges united in the acquisition, preservation, and distribution of social science data.
Staff and student researchers at the University of Edinburgh will now have access to over 10,000 American and international datasets covering an array of topics such as health and nutrition, crime reporting, youth development, election surveys, consumer attitudes and national economic indicators. ICPSR makes searching for suitable datasets easy through its Finding Data portal and provides data-related publications and resources for students.
Researchers can also take advantage of its highly regarded summer program of social science quantitative methods training, with a significant discount.
To view datasets and other resources visit https://www.icpsr.umich.edu. Many datasets are publicly available; some require registration and access from a University IP address.
EDINA and Data Library
Since mid-January, two new Research Data Service Assistants have joined the busy ‘virtual team’ working across divisions of Information Services to provide user support for RDM and Data Library enquiries and to quality assure DataShare submissions. You may have already come in contact with them, but a brief welcome is in order nonetheless.
Both new team members have a research background but surprisingly, from the same field and institution! Nevertheless they had not met until they arrived at our offices in Argyle House for their first day of work. Diarmuid joins us full-time, commuting daily from Glasgow, and Bob works half-time, taking advantage of a short walk from home.
Diarmuid McDonnell has taught a variety of research design, data management and analysis courses across a number of Scottish universities and levels. He is proficient in the use of Stata, SPSS and SAS for research and teaching purposes and is particularly experienced in the use of administrative data for social science research, which he used for his recently completed PhD thesis at Stirling University.
Bob Sanders recently completed his PhD at Stirling University looking at the relationship between dependency and care receipt in later life. He has extensive experience undertaking quantitative research, including the routine and advanced management and statistical analysis of large-scale longitudinal data. He is capable of conducting end-to-end data preparation, management and analysis using syntax-driven commands in Stata, with experience using other statistical software packages such as SPSS and Excel.
In addition to their repository and user support work for EDINA and Data Library, they have already made unique contributions to the service. Diarmuid has revised and taught our Data Handling in SPSS half-day workshop, as well as piloted an Introduction to Statistical Literacy workshop for Humanists. Bob has joined the Data Safe Haven development project, helping to work out operational processes and user documentation, as well as giving the online MANTRA course a thorough editing job.
Data Librarian and Head, Research Data Support
EDINA and Data Library
The Research Data Service hosted back to back 2-day workshops in the Main Library this week, run by the Software Sustainability Institute (SSI) to train University of Edinburgh researchers in basic data science and research computing skills.
Learners at Data Carpentry workshop
Software Carpentry (SC) is a popular global initiative originating in the US, aimed at training researchers in good practice in writing, storing and sharing code. Both SC and its newer offshoot, Data Carpentry, teaches methods and tools that helps researchers makes their science reproducible. The SSI, based at Edinburgh Parallel Computing Centre (EPCC), organises workshops for both throughout the UK.
Martin Callaghan, University of Leeds, introduces goals of Data Carpentry workshop.
Each workshop is taught by trainers trained by the SC organisation, using proven methods of delivery, to learners using their own laptops, and with plenty of support by knowledgeable helpers. Instructors at our workshops were from Leeds and EPCC. Comments from the learners – staff and postgraduate students from a range of schools, included, ‘Variety of needs and academic activities/disciplines catered for. Useful exercies and explanations,’ and ‘Very powerful tools.’
Lessons can vary between different workshops, depending on the level of the learners and their requirements, as determined by a pre-workshop survey. The Data Carpentry workshop on Monday and Tuesday included:
- Using spreadsheets effectively
- Introduction to R
- R and visualisation
- Databases and SQL
- Using R with SQLite
- Managing Research & Data Management Plans
The Software Carpentry workshop was aimed at researchers who write their own code, and covered the following topics:
- Introduction to the Shell
- Version Control
- Introduction to Python
- Using the Shell (scripts)
- Version Control (with Github)
- Open Science and Open Research
Software Carpentry learners
Clearly the workshops were valued by learners and very worthwhile. The team will consider how it can offer similar workshops in the future at a similarly low cost; your ideas welcome!
EDINA and Data Library